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'Open carry' event planned for Hudson

The organizer of an "Open Carry Picnic" to be held Aug. 23 at the St. Croix County Fairgrounds in Glenwood City says he is planning another event in Hudson in a few months, according to a report in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

"This is important to me because it has to do with our liberties," Dave "Ole" Olson of Glenwood City is quoted as saying in the Eau Claire newspaper. "Our passion is liberty and freedom. In my thinking, the country is going in the wrong direction and people need to know that they have the right to carry a gun."

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued an advisory on April 20 saying that it is legal to openly carry a gun in public.

Wisconsin has a law that prohibits the carrying of concealed weapons, but state statutes don't say anything about openly carrying guns.

State law does require that guns be kept in cases when they are transported in vehicles, and prohibits firearms in taverns, schools and other public buildings.

Van Hollen issued his opinion after Wisconsin men were charged with disorderly conduct for carrying handguns in holsters.

A year ago, a West Allis man was arrested for carrying a handgun in a holster while he did his yard work. He was acquitted of the disorderly conduct charge in February.

In April, West Milwaukee and Chilton police detained a man for carrying a gun in a holster in Menards and Wal-Mart stores.

Van Hollen qualified his opinion on the open carrying of firearms by saying that owners don't have the right to brandish their guns in a threatening manner.

"A hunter openly carrying a rifle or shotgun on his property during hunting season while quietly tracking game should not face a disorderly conduct charge," the attorney general wrote. "But if the same hunter carries the same rifle or shotgun through a crowded street while barking at a passerby, the conduct may lose its constitutional protection. The same concepts should apply to handguns."

Olson told the Eau Claire newspaper that he organized the Open Carry Picnic to inform people of their Second Amendment right to openly carry firearms. The picnic is scheduled for noon to 4:30 p.m.

Olson said he's working to bring a nationally recognized speaker to a future Hudson event concerning First- and Second-Amendment rights.

Olson told the Leader-Telegram that the Glenwood City event isn't sponsored by any group. He said he is spending about $2,000 of his own money on food for about 400 people.

Donations will be collected to offset the picnic expenses. People are being encouraged to bring a dish to pass.

According to the Leader-Telegram, no long guns or alcohol will be permitted at the picnic, and handguns will have to be kept in holsters.

Olson is renting a portion of the fairgrounds for the picnic.

Dick Sullwold, president of the St. Croix County Fair Board, is quoted as saying he had no issues with renting the fairgrounds for the event.

Olson has invited legislators and local government and law enforcement officials to the picnic.

St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead told the Leader-Telegram he hasn't decided if he will attend the picnic.

"I believe it is a way for people to test municipal ordinances against what the state law is," Hillstead is quoted as saying.